[07/80] A Week On a Treadmill Desk in Cape Town

Meet Jan Folmer. Jan is a 36-year-old Dutchman. In 2004 he moved to Cape Town. Jan has an active lifestyle. As a true Dutchie, he cycles to work. He boxes, and hikes up the iconic Table Mountain every week. He is a big fan of smoothies. That’s why he started Omniblend — an online commercial blender company. Full with energy he runs his business. Or actually, just like every other knowledge worker, he ‘sits’ his business…

Until four years ago he would spend most of his days sitting behind his laptop. While slowly developing back and neck problems, he discovered what he calls ‘a game changer’: The treadmill desk.

Wait. A treadmill desk? Yes, a treadmill desk. What you picture in your mind right now, is exactly what it is. A treadmill with a desk. So you can walk and work. Which is the name of the next company he started to make the workplaces in South-Africa healthier: Walk and Work

But before we start walking, let’s take a step back. Because the first (obvious) question that comes to mind is:


Curious, but a little skeptic (and bribed by a big jar of peanut butter) I started my 7th experiment. After walking (and working) on a steady 2,5 km p/h pace for an hour, I have to admit I like it. I can type, read, think, and even dancing to music is a lot more fun than while sitting. Only my handwriting is a bit more sloppy. But hey, I can do while I’m sitting.

Browsing the interwebs I notice that if you’re a self-respecting celebrity like Victoria Beckham, you have a picture on your Instagram “working” on a treadmill desk. I’m happy I can check that off my bucket list now!

I also stumble upon articles sharing ‘factual research’. Working while walking increases productivity, or not. It’s good for blood circulation, makes you smarter and a long list of other (boring) benefits or risks. Some comments on the articles even state — in CAPITALS — a treadmill desk is not a replacement for regular exercise. I hear myself thinking “No shit, Sherlock”..

The main point is to be able to get an occasional break from our sitting life.

All missionaries, celebrities and research aside, in the end, it’s about one thing and one thing only: Do you like it, yes or no?

Over the last week, while working for Walk and Work, I walked the equivalent of a marathon… By walking 3,5 hours a day at 2,5km p/h. And it was good fun!

For my experiment, I thought the best marketing is to get people to try it out (duh). That’s why we got one up and walking in a big co-working space this upcoming week. The goal is to get as much feedback as possible, to challenge basic assumptions.

If you want to know more about treadmill desks (and live in South-Africa) check www.walkandwork.co.za. Oh, and you can also build one yourself

Besides working, how is Cape Town?

Morning view Cape Town
For the ones following my photo of the day project on Instagram, I think you already know: it’s amazing! Seriously. Oh, and for all you jealous types out there, no, I won’t stop sharing updates, haha.

Every morning when I go out to get a coffee, these stunning mountains are right there.

And the food (and wine) is delicious here. There is a Food Lovers Market around the corner, which means sushi for lunch. Oh, and Lynn, your homemade rusks are waaaay better than the rusks from the supermarket!

Sushi for lunch

For shelter we had to get creative, but since the office used to be an apartment, this is where I sleep:

Office bedroom

In short, deciding to go to South Africa turned out to be a fantastic choice. With the challenge to hike up 3 mountains in one day for charity coming up in four weeks, and two other experiments already planned (all of which I will announce later), I couldn’t be more excited!

Jan, Elisabeth, and Lars, I had a blast working with you guys.

Everyone else, thanks for all the nice messages you’re sending, I really appreciate it!

Have a great week and all the best,

— Kevin